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RQ-4B Kit

Skunk Models 1/48 RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2010 Manufacturer Skunkmodels
Subject RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48009 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look

RQ-4B Kit
RQ-4B Kit
RQ-4B Kit
RQ-4B Kit

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a long-range, high-altitude, long endurance unmanned aerial system designed to provide strategic and theater-level intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities to the warfighter. Originally developed under the Tier II program, the airframe experienced a number of technical and programmatic challenges which slipped the initial deliveries of the aircraft by several years. While you might not immediately associate Northrop Grumman with unmanned systems, but you should recognize the company behind the corporation - Ryan Aeronautical. Ryan has been producing remotely piloted vehicles for decades and were the best team to tackle such an ambitious program. Teledyne Ryan was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 1999.

The RQ-4A (Block 10) were originally built to provide experimental platforms for DoD, but wartime demands saw these early Global Hawks put into combat support duties almost immediately. Nine Block 10s were produced before production turned to Block 20.

The RQ-4B (Block 20) was enlarged over the Block 10 with a wingspan of 130.9 feet and a fuselage length of 47.7 feet. The aircraft was designed to loft a Synthetic Aperture Radar similar to the systems carried aboard the U-2 and JSTARS. This provides a high-resolution reconnaissance capability which can see through cloud cover and the dark of night. Upgrades are in progress to turn some of these airframes into Block 30 platforms that incorporate even more advanced sensors.

Skunk Models is a parallel brand to Kinetic Models and up until now, Kinetic has turned out the model kits while weapons sets and tow tractor accessories were produced under the Skunk brand. Well all of that has changed with this release. Here is the first plastic kit of the Global Hawk produced to date in 1/48th scale. With a wingspan of around 32 inches, this model is going to be impressive.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees. With around 60 parts, this will be a quick build as there is no cockpit detail included in this kit, and that's due to the fact that the Global Hawk doesn't have a cockpit. The dome where the canopy would be has a satellite dish under there.

Before the upper fuselage halves go together, you assemble the engine compressor face to the intake duct and the turbine face to the exhaust duct. These ducts are installed into the doral engine hump at the rear of the airframe.

The wings are six parts - three parts per side. Each wing has an upper and lower half that goes out to about 80% of the span. When these are together, you insert the last 20% as a one-piece outer wing panel. The wing roots have mounting plates and attach to corresponding studs on the lower fuselage plate. We'll see how strong this system will be soon.

With the fuselage assembled, the wings and V-tail are attached to the fuselage along with a variety of antennas. Ventral strakes are mounted under the tail and the landing gear assemblies complete the project.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • RQ-4B, 052024, Beale AFB, CA
  • RQ-4B, 99+99, Luftwaffe

The decal sheet includes a nice set of maintenance stenciling as well as the primary markings.

This is a nicely done kit and should build into a nice model of the huge Global Hawk. We'll have to give this one a try...

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!